Chase Claypool’s former college coach praises the Steelers rookie wide receiver

Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly and MVP of the game wide receiver Chase Claypool. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly and MVP of the game wide receiver Chase Claypool. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Chase Claypool appears to be a budding star for the Steelers. Here’s why his former college coach, Brian Kelly, couldn’t praise him enough for what he is accomplishing.

There aren’t a lot of experts out there who could have predicted such an epic start to Chase Claypool’s NFL career. Though his testing numbers were off the charts at the NFL Combine this past offseason, draft experts still didn’t buy into the hype – claiming that Claypool didn’t live up to his timed speed and was a clone of former Fighting Irish receiver, Miles Boykin. The Steelers clearly knew better.

Looking at it now, it’s hard to believe that 10 wide receivers were taken before him in the 2020 NFL Draft. While this could turn out to be one of the best receiver classes in recent history, there’s no way that 10 receivers will be able to go down the path that Claypool is currently heading.

One person who isn’t at all surprised by Claypool’s early success in the NFL is his former college head coach, Brian Kelly. In 11 years as the head coach of Notre Dame, there probably aren’t many more players he’s spoken more highly of than Chase Claypool.

Recently, Kelly was invited to join The Jim Rome Show to discuss the recent success of Claypool. Here’s what he had to say:

"We’re proud of the development of our players. Nobody really knew who Chase Claypool was, and all the other guys have got bigger resumes. He’s a young man out of Canada that developed and we thought that he was going to make an impact. He’s a humble kid and he has obviously made an impact early on, and he will continue to do that. He’s a matchup nightmare. You can play him inside, you can play him outside, you can hand him off the football. He’s well-grounded and he’s well-prepared for the success that he’s going to get in the NFL."

Kelly did not beat around the bush when describing his former wide receiver – describing him as both a ‘humble kid’ and a ‘matchup nightmare.’ While Kelly certainly has a better feel for Claypool’s personality than we do at this point, the latter is something football fans have already witnessed.

In just his fourth ever NFL game, Claypool earned what could go down as the single-best performance from a wide receiver this year – regardless of team or status in the league. The young receiver hauled in 7 catches for 110 yards to go with his 4 total touchdowns. Claypool would have had another big catch down the sideline if it wasn’t for an iffy offensive pass interference call as the Eagles cornerback tripped over his own feet.

The Steelers rookie is on a remarkable pace

Through four games, Claypool is on an outrageous pace for 1,044 yards and a whopping 16 receiving touchdowns. While this isn’t a number he will be able to sustain (especially the prorated touchdown totals), Claypool could still have a thoroughly impressive rookie season.

Remarkably, Claypool is achieving this despite starting the season behind a young, talented group of receivers that includes JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington. In addition, Eric Ebron was signed by the Steelers this past offseason to give Pittsburgh a boost in their passing attack.

Though first-quarter injuries over the past two games to Johnson have been unfortunate, it likely gave Claypool the opportunity he needed to really make an impact on the football field. At this point, it’s going to be extremely difficult to keep him off the field – even with a deep group around him.

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It’s too early to tell whether or not Chase Claypool will be able to continue with such a dominant run in his rookie season, but the fact that he has already made a splash this big is encouraging enough. Let’s hope the Steelers rookie receiver can continue to take this offense to new heights.